January 06, 2018

Ruling elite insulted Pakistan for Rs25 bn: Imran

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday blamed the political elite for the mess Pakistan was presently facing after the US President Donald Trump’s tirade against Pakistan.

Imran lamented that Trump was insulting Pakistan for Rs25 billion while Ishaq Dar’s two sons owned two towers worth Rs25 billion. He said the rulers had trillions stashed abroad. “We don’t need the Indian lobby, as our own political leaders are hell bent on defaming Pakistan while the institutions are paralysed by a mafia,” he said at a news conference here. He asked where was the prime minister, the rat, hiding after Trump’s statement. He held the political elite responsible for the prevailing crisis, which could do anything for the lust of wealth and power.

Imran vowed to pursue the Asghar Khan case, which he lamented was not taken to its logical conclusion in 25 years. He alleged that Nawaz Sharif had taken money from the ISI and had his party's role in the fall of the PPP governments.

Imran termed Nawaz Sharif a security risk for Pakistan and accused Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif of sharing the state secrets to American officials in order to remain in power. He alleged that Nawaz was doing everything to save his ill-gotten Rs300 billion stashed abroad.

The PTI chairman charged that Nawaz followed the policy of George Bush i.e. “you are either with us or against us” regarding his issues and referred to Justice Qayyum. “Nawaz always wants his own umpires,” he alleged.

Imran based most of his news conference on the WikiLeaks from worldwide US diplomatic missions. He accused the Sharif brothers of selling the country to the Americans. He even alleged that Nawaz Sharif had told the Americans that he wore suit and was like them, unlike Pakistanis, who wear Shalwar Qameez.

The PTI chief maintained that WikiLeaks had revealed that Shahbaz had told American senators that Pakistanis had been complicit in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, assuring them that he would take strict action against those involved, if his interests were protected.

“On one hand, they (PML-N) with people like Punjab law minister, have been harbouring their own extremist groups; while on the other, Shahbaz went around telling the Americans that “we want to take over the Jamaatud Dawa's madrassas, hospitals and wide network but want proof from you to begin proceedings against them in the courts”.

Imran had his doubts on the role of the PML-N in the movement for the restoration of the judiciary, as he claimed that Shahbaz had told America's then principal officer in Lahore Brian Hunt that former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was problematic, who could create issues for the PML-N itself.

The PTI chairman continued that he then presented four demands to Brian Hunt and the first was the removal of the bar on a politician becoming chief minister or prime minister for the third term and this was purely for themselves. "Shahbaz's second demand was the restoration of his government in Punjab, as governor rule had been imposed in the province when this meeting happened," he claimed.

The third demand, he noted, was an opportunity of face-saving even if Iftikhar Chaudhry could not be successfully restored. The last was return of the prime minister's powers taken away by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. "He reached out to the Americans just for personal gains," Imran alleged. "When the country's leadership will say such things to the American leadership, who will stand for you?" he wondered.

Imran also alleged that while Nawaz Sharif claims to be a harbinger of peace, he had told Saudi Arabia that his government wanted to send the Pakistan Army to Yemen. However, the then Chief of Army Staff General (R) Raheel Sharif, had not agreed to the proposal, he quoted Senator Sajid Mir as saying upon his return from Riyadh.

About Nawaz's threat that he would spill the beans regarding various conspiracies if political intrigue was not stopped, Imran asked why he had remained quiet while he was in power and responsible for whatever happened in the country.

"It is like the chief executive of Shaukat Khanum saying there have been incidents of theft over the past four years, but I have remained quiet," he noted. "If there are excesses happening in the country, why did you stay quiet?" he asked.

He also alleged that according to WikiLeaks, Nawaz had told the Americans that, "I am your best friend and will remain your best friend forever". Regarding the government's coalition partner, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he said the Americans had written in their leaked diplomatic cables that Fazl had "significant votes for sale" to the Americans, as he also wanted his share in power.

Imran took pride at being termed by the Americans as the only politician, who tells them in private what he tells the public. "I have been saying this since the beginning that the US war on terror was not our war and we were dragged into it just for money. But now it has become our war," he said.

Referring to war in Afghanistan, Imran said Pakistan's neighbour still does not control half of its territory, which is in the hands of Taliban. He charged that the US was making Pakistan scapegoat to hide its failures in Afghanistan during the last 16 years, calling it a travesty of justice to blame Pakistan for failures in Afghanistan.

He said that there was no other country in the world that wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan. "We stand to lose the most if there is no peace," he emphasised. "This is a very big lesson for us that if you take loans from other countries, then the country will lose its dignity," Imran contended.

Imran remarked that even if he had looted money also stashed in foreign countries, he would not talk against Trump. About the Sharifs’ recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Imran said there should be no impression that an NRO would save the Sharif brothers, as people will not accept it now. He alleged that before the previous NRO, the Sharif family had a default of Rs6 billion.

Imran paid tribute to late air marshal Asghar Khan for his struggle and being honest and a principled politician. Imran said the answer to the present crisis was holding of free and fair early elections.


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